Core Body of Knowledge

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Core Body of Knowledge

Academic History of Western Civilization
For each of the sections that follow students may be required to analyze, recall, explain, interpret, apply, or evaluate the particular concepts being taught.

  • Assess the role of geography in the development of Greco-Roman civilization

  • Define the role of the epic and myth in society

  • Describe the extent to which democracy existed in the Greco-Roman cultures

  • Compare and contrast the Athenian and Spartan cultures

  • Analyze the importance of the Persian Wars

  • Evaluate the contributions of the Greeks and the Romans to western civilization with regard to art, architecture, literature, politics, science and philosophy

  • Articulate the legacy of Alexander the Great

  • Identify major religious developments with regard to the birth and spread of Christianity and the Diaspora of the Jewish people to other lands.

  • Analyze the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, and the effects upon the previously conquered peoples

  • Measure the importance of the Byzantine Empire and its relationship to the fall of Rome

  • Describe the preservation and spread of Greek and Roman learning through medieval Europe, and the revival of learning as the Middle Ages progressed

  • Evaluate the contribution of Charlemagne and others to the formation of early European states

  • Explain the relationship and conflict between church and state during the Middle Ages

  • Diagram the social, political, and economic feudal structure

  • Differentiate the roles of medieval men and women in European society

  • Examine the code of chivalry and methods of warfare, and their influence upon literature and art

  • Label various European states on a map, and analyze map of Viking explorations

  • Formulate reasons for the Crusades and their contribution to poor relations between Moslems and Christians to this day

  • Articulate the importance of guilds and the commercial revolution to economic life

  • Explain the evolution of England and France into European states, and list the democratic traditions that evolved with nationhood

  • Discriminate between fact and fiction concerning the legends of Robin Hood and William Wallace

  • Summarize the conflicts within the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages with regard to improper practices and schisms

  • Appraise the impact of the Black Death upon Europe

  • Examine the military and political ramifications of the Hundred Years’ War


  • Define the nature of an Italian city-state

  • Derive the connection between classical learning and humanism

  • Describe what it meant to be a Renaissance man and woman, and discuss the differences

  • Relate the discovery of perspective in art to the Renaissance achievement in painting

  • Analyze the tenets of Machiavelli in The Prince, and generalize to current political situations

  • Examine the accomplishments of the Northern Renaissance with regard to art, humanism and literature

  • Define the accomplishments of William Shakespeare

  • Assess the importance of the printing press during the Reformation, and within the scope of the entire history of mankind

  • List the reasons for the Protestant Reformation

  • Determine the changing nature of the relationship between church and state during the Reformation and after it

  • Describe how the Anglican Church formed in England the consequences for the common man

  • Recognize the impact of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox

  • Identify the accomplishments of the Catholic Reformation

  • List the social, religious, and political effects of the Reformation


  • Examine the role of Portugal in inspiring global exploration by European nations

  • Inventory the reasons for exploration and colonization by European nations

  • List European nations engaged in early exploration and their achievements

  • Articulate the nature of Columbus’s decision to sail west across the Atlantic, and the impact of his discoveries upon the Spanish court and other European princes

  • Appraise the attitude of Europeans towards native populations

  • Describe the affects of Spanish conquest upon the Aztec and Inca populations

  • List European nations that colonized North America, and the outcome of the competition

  • Illustrate the Triangle Trade system

  • Summarize the motivation for and nature of slavery in the Americas

  • Recognize the effects of slavery in America

  • Analyze the economics affects of global trade and the impact of the Columbian Exchange

  • Explain the rise of capitalism and mercantilism


  • Give examples of political actions that were influenced by religious concerns during this age

  • Name several Spanish and Dutch painters and discuss their particular styles

  • Summarize the reasons for Spain’s economic problems

  • State the reasons for the Dutch revolt against Spain and the results

  • Define the ideas of absolutism and state the reasons why monarchs adopted these beliefs

  • Examine the influence of skepticism upon human thought during this age

  • Measure the strengths and weaknesses of the reign of Louis XIV of France

  • Extrapolate the major, lasting results of the Thirty Years’ War and the Peace of Westphalia

  • Describe the impact of the Seven Years’ War upon North America and India

  • Categorize the various types of reforms enacted by Peter the Great, of Russia

  • Compile a list of English democratic reforms that led to the formation of the U.S. government


  • Distinguish between geocentric and heliocentric theories of the universe

  • State the scientific contributions of Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton,

  • Leeuwenhoek, Fahrenheit, and Boyle

  • Contrast the theory of Hobbes (social contract) with that of John Locke (consent of the governed)

  • Identify the philosophy of Voltaire and describe his use of satire

  • Differentiate the philosophies of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Wollstonecraft

  • Give examples of the effects of the Enlightenment that helped shape western civilization

  • Describe how an enlightened despot might rule

  • Determine the role of the Enlightenment as a cause of the American Revolution

  • List specific examples of democratic ideas penned by philosophes that were incorporated into the American system of government

  • Diagram French society during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette by ranking societal groups according to wealth and power, and then ranking by size

  • Relate the Third Estate, National Assembly and the storming of the Bastille to the beginning of the French Revolution

  • Specify the excesses of the French Revolution and the disorder that opened the door for Napoleon

  • Explain how Napoleon engineered a coup d’etat

  • State the importance of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon’s troops in Egypt

  • Determine reasons for the decline and fall of Napoleon

  • Conclude both the immediate and long-term affects of the French Revolution, the Congress of Vienna and the rise of nationalism in Europe and European-held colonies


  • Chronicle the process by which Haiti became the first black colony to free itself from Europe

  • Assess the importance of Bolivar and San Martin to South American independence from Europe

  • Discriminate between conservative, liberal and radical political viewpoints in Europe

  • Define nationalism and generally describe the role it played in the Balkans, France, the Austrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia during this time period

  • Outline the movements to unite Italy and Germany in general terms

  • Specify the beliefs of romantics and contrast them to those of realists

  • Describe examples of romanticism, realism, and impressionism in the arts

  • Distinguish improvements in agriculture as part of the Industrial Revolution

  • Evaluate the textile and transportation industries with regard to technological improvements and societal effects

  • Describe living conditions for the working class in urban areas; contrast to the middle class

  • Enumerate the positive effects of the Industrial Revolution

  • Summarize the impact of industrialization upon the United States and Europe

  • Describe inequalities in industrialization globally, and the impact that Europe, Japan, and the United States would have upon nonindustrialized nations in order to fuel their own growth

  • Identify the role of the corporation in the economy

  • Differentiate between capitalism, socialism and communism; Adam Smith and Karl Marx

  • List accomplishments of reform movements with regard to labor, slavery, and women’s rights


  • Outline democratic reforms within Britain’s government during the Victorian Age

  • Define “pogrom” and relate this word to the development of Jewish Zionism

  • Distinguish British colonial policy towards Canada and Australia, from the colonial policy towards Ireland

  • Measure the scope and effects of the Irish Potato Famine

  • List the reasons for western imperialism

  • Critique the European attitude towards native peoples, especially with regard to Africa

  • Interpret geographical maps of Africa with regard to native ethnic divisions and colonial territories

  • Differentiate the colonial policies of paternalism and assimilation

  • Determine the scope of native African resistance to colonization and imperialist policies

  • Describe how European interference in Egypt and with the Ottoman Empire renewed ill feelings between Christians and Muslims

  • Identify the reasons why India was called the “jewel in the crown” of Britain, and explain how India evolved from colonialism to nationalism by 1900

  • Demonstrate the relationship of European colonialism in Southeast Asia to 20th century conflicts such as Vietnam

  • Specify American imperialist ventures in the Pacific Islands

  • Assess the gains made by colonial policies as countered by the millions of deaths of native peoples

  • Relate western ideals to the growth of nationalism by native peoples living under colonial rule

  • Discuss effects of western imperialism in today’s world

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